Instead of bringing to court Frank Romano, who was arrested trying to block an Israeli army bulldozer in Khan al-Ahmar, Israeli police tried to deport him without notifying his lawyer or the court. Judge orders him released.
After taking the nearly unprecedented step of arresting a foreign national under Israeli military law, Israeli police openly defied the country’s civilian court system by simply deciding not to bring French-American professor and activist Frank Romano to his own detention hearing, instead spiriting him off to a deportation hearing without ever informing his lawyer — or the court.
After ordering police to bring Romano back to her courtroom from an airport deportation facility where he was about to be put on a plane to the United States, Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Chavi Toker rebuked Israeli police for what she called their “scandalous” behavior and ordered Roman released pending appeal.
Romano was arrested by Israeli authorities on Friday after putting his body in front of an Israeli military bulldozer preparing for the demolition and forced displacement of Khan al-Ahmar, a Palestinian village Israel plans to destroy in its entirety in the coming days. In a highly unusual step, Roman was arrested under Israeli military law instead of Israeli civilian law.
Israeli civilians are subject to Israeli civilian law while in the West Bank but Palestinians are subject to Israeli military law, which have different rules, standards, and often punishments. Foreign nationals are rarely put into the military system.
Under Israeli civilian law police must bring a suspect before a judge within 24 hours of arresting them, while under military law authorities can wait 96 hours before bringing an arrestee to court for a detention hearing. Romano’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky, had requested that his detention hearing be held in a civilian court, which was granted and scheduled for 4 p.m. on Sunday — over two days after his arrest.
Instead of bringing Romano to court at 4 p.m., however, at 2 p.m. Israeli police transferred him to the custody of immigration officials, who held a deportation hearing without informing Lasky or the court and were preparing to put him on a plane to the United States. (Romano lives in France.)
According to Lasky, the decision to book her client under military law instead of into the civilian justice system was made in order to give them time to deport him before he saw a judge, which, she...Read More